The Vega del Mar Basilica in San Pedro Alcántara
At the western end of San Pedro de Alcántara beach, hidden behind some eucalyptus trees you’ll find an archaeological site of great interest. It is the remains of a Visigoth basilica of the Paleo-Christian era, built in the sixth century.
The remains were discovered early in the 20th century during the planting of eucalyptus trees, and though only parts of the original structure remain, it presents an excellent example of rare Visigoth architecture. The basilica’s location in San Pedro would have put it on the Roman road that led from Cartagena to the province of Cádiz and the Roman baths there, which are still in use to this day. Items discovered on the site were deemed so important to Spanish history that they are now exhibited in the National Museum of Archaeology in Madrid.
Ancient history in Marbella
The Visigoths were one of two eastern German tribes known as the Goths. They invaded Italy and sacked Rome in 410. Having achieved this, they settled in what was then Gaul and is now France, then expanded their territory to take in Spain and Portugal, where the Visigothic kingdom had significant influence from the 5th to 8th centuries, in the era before the Muslim invasion of 711.
At first the Visigoths were at odds with the Catholic church, but after they converted to Nicene Christianity they exerted influence over secular affairs through the Council of Toledo. The Visigoths also developed the highly influential legal code known in Western Europe as the Visigothic Code (Liber Iudiciorum), which would become the basis for Spanish law throughout the Middle Ages.
The settlements on the Andalusian coast enabled the Visigoths to maintain contact with other parts of the Mediterranean, following in the footsteps of the Phoenicians, arrived here almost 1,500 years before. The basilica is an important reminder of the Visigoth presence in this part of Spain.
What we can see at the site is that the entrances to the basilica were located to the north and to the south, which is where archaeologists found remains of the original porticos. The presence of tombs from different periods reaching back to the 7th century indicate the long use that has been made of this building, or at least of its necropolis. The council has created a visitor experience with explanations of different parts of the site, which is open between 11:00–13:00hrs on Fridays, with free admission.